Poor money management has been the cause of more business failures than any other single issue. And it’s no wonder. We aren’t born knowing how to manage money. Most of us aren’t taught how to handle it either. We figure it out along the way, through much trial and error.
Those same mindset issues and bad habits that wreak havoc in our personal finances can plague our businesses as well if we’re not careful.
Catching Shiny Object Syndrome
Some things are just hard to resist—especially when your friends and colleagues are all jumping on board! New tools, training, group coaching programs and even business models can all have a strong pull, and if you aren’t careful, these shiny objects can quickly distract you from your current goals.
If you find yourself catching shiny object syndrome frequently, try this two-step plan instead:
Falling for the Sunk Costs Fallacy
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “I’m not using this subscription, but I can’t give it up! I’m still paying the launch price and now it’s much more expensive!” Then you’ve fallen for the sunk costs fallacy.
This common mistake is famous among economists, and we all fall victim to it from time to time. Simply put, the sunk costs fallacy is what makes us justify investing more money or time in something—even though we’re not seeing results—because we’ve already spent so much. It’s what encourages us to repair the car one more time (after all, you just put new tires on it), eat a meal we don’t enjoy (simply because you’ve paid for it), and yes, continue to pay for tools and resources you’re not using.
Take a few minutes and examine your current business expenses. What are you paying for month after month that you’re not using? Either make a plan to put them to work for you, or cancel them. Stop falling for the sunk costs fallacy.
Too Much Penny Pinching
You thought this was all going to be about overspending, didn’t you? Here’s the kicker: Spending too little is just as bad for business.
When you’re constantly on the lookout for free and low-cost tools or working 16-hour days because you “can’t afford to outsource,” you’re not doing your business any favors. Sure, it looks like you’re bootstrapping and working really hard to make something from nothing, but what you’re really doing is digging yourself a rut it will be nearly impossible to climb out of. Not only that, but you’re reinforcing a scarcity mindset that will continue to plague you for years if you let it.
Rather than pinching pennies, learn to spend money strategically. Buy what you need, when you need it. Invest in top-quality products and programs rather than settling for the low-ticket, half-baked plans. Just like quality clothes, cars and furniture, quality services and software last longer and work better. And unlike that car, good quality business tools will pay for themselves.
What do you think? Are you a victim of shiny object syndrome? Let us know in the comments below
We all do it. No matter how successful you are, at one time or another you’ll fall into the self-sabotage trap, and the price of admission is high.
The end result? Frustration. Burnout. Resentment (of your clients or your business). And yes, even more self-sabotaging behaviors. This downward spiral can quickly turn devastating, but stopping it is easy when you learn to recognize the symptoms.
Did you mean to apply for that high-end client program but missed the deadline? Or maybe you were going to send a proposal to a potential new client, but waited too long? Or maybe you simply waited too long to take advantage of a sale price on a hot new app that everyone’s raving about.
These and other missed opportunities can often be blamed on simple procrastination, one of the most destructive habits we suffer from. Procrastination is what keeps us working late at night to make a deadline, costs us money in late fees, and even costs us business.
If you’re prone to procrastination, try these techniques to put an end to it:
Failing to Complete Your Projects
Be honest. How many half-written books, partially planned programs, and unfinished products are cluttering up your hard drive right now?
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, the answer is probably several.
You started all of them with great enthusiasm. You planned out the modules or chapters, created the slide decks, and maybe even outlined the sales page. And then…you just stopped working on it.
Maybe you tell yourself that you’re too busy. Maybe you “need to do some more research.” Or maybe you simply lost interest. But the truth is, none of those are the real reason. For a lot of entrepreneurs, this self-sabotaging habit is actually a symptom of a lack of confidence, and it’s keeping you from the success you deserve.
Consider this: You cannot know the actual success rate of a program you’ve never finished, and you cannot improve upon something you’ve never completed. So rather than filling your hard drive with half-finished projects, power through and start releasing them—even if you believe they’re not perfect, and even if you think they’ll never sell.
What have you left undone that would make a significant difference in your business if you finished it? Tell us below
I get it. You’re a solo-preneur.
You’re proud of the fact that you’ve bootstrapped your business from the ground up, tackling every task that comes your way. You built your first website, dove in and learned how to edit and upload videos to YouTube, figured out how to format your email newsletter, and even wrestled your shopping cart into submission.
But that feeling of pride that comes from doing the work yourself comes with a price. Too many small business owners are working too many hours, suffering from burnout and frustration—not because they’re not good at what they do, but simply because they’re unwilling to truly invest in their business.
They’re letting a scarcity mindset prevent them from taking the steps—and making the investments—that will have a massive impact on their business. And maybe you are, too.
By far the biggest objection to outsourcing you’ll hear is “I can’t afford it.” Perhaps you’ve heard—or even said it. But the fact is, if you’re a serious business owner, you can’t afford not to outsource.
The time you free up by not doing those mundane, everyday tasks is time you’ll spend more profitably, by:
Outsourcing should never be looked at as an expense. In fact, if you’re not getting a return on your outsourcing investment, take a hard look at what you’re outsourcing and to whom, because there is likely plenty of room for improvement.
Most online business owners start out using low-cost tools with limited features. For example, you might be using PayPal exclusively for product sales, and manually adding buyers to your mailing list each time you receive a payment. While that’s an acceptable solution when time is easier to come by than money, you’ll quickly outgrow it. The problem is, too many entrepreneurs fail to recognize the benefits of true automation.
Not only is trying to “make do” with a pieced-together system costing you sales, but it costs actual dollars, too. You (or your VA) will spend extra time simply getting it all to work, rather than letting the tools do the heavy lifting.
Recognize when it’s time to up-level your marketing tools to include true funnel automation, and watch your income increase dramatically!
It is possible to build your business solely on your own. You can pay attention to what others are doing and reverse engineer their systems. You can read books and blogs and maybe invest in a few carefully chosen training programs.
But there will come a time when your growth will flat line, and you’ll struggle to reach that next level. That’s when it’s time to invest in coaching. And yes, even coaches have (and need) coaches. A coach can help you see past your own blind spots, work through the blocks that are holding you back, and build a business you love—on your own terms.
Don’t be afraid to invest in your business. Wise investments such as coaching, automation, and outsourcing will pay for themselves many times over.
Looking forward to your comments and tips below, Coach Deb
“I’ve never been good with money.”
“I hate budgets.”
“I’ll never be a 6-figure earner.”
“My market won’t pay premium prices.”
If you’ve ever heard these statements come out of your mouth—or even in your head—then you’re engaging in a damaging habit known as negative self-talk. By telling yourself these lies (and yes, they are lies) you’re reinforcing the beliefs that go along with them.
What you visualize and believe is what becomes true.
Tell yourself that you’re not good with money, and you won’t be. Believe that budgets are horrible chores to be reviled, and you’ll resist creating one. Convince yourself that you can’t earn a 6-figure income, and you won’t.
It’s not “the secret.” It’s a scientific fact. Known as a self-fulfilling prophecy, this kind of self-talk results in poor performance simply because we act as if it’s already true.
If you tell yourself that you’ll never be a 6-figure earner, you will not do the things that 6-figure business owners do. You won’t work to grow your mailing list (“No one reads my emails anyway”), you won’t increase your hourly rates (“It’s not like I’m some top-earning professional”), and you won’t build a brand worthy of a 6-figure income (“A beautiful brand isn’t necessary at this income level”).
By contrast, if you act and think as if you already are a 6-figure earner, you’ll approach your business quite differently. Your confidence level will increase. You’ll present a very different brand to your prospective clients. You’ll go out of your way to connect with those who can and will afford to pay your higher rates.
How to Combat Negative Self Talk
The first step toward changing your negative self-talk is to simply acknowledge that you do it. Tick a mental checkbox every time you catch yourself making negative statements, whether out loud or in your head.
Make a note of the ones that come up most often for you, and identify their origin if you can. For example, if your ex-husband continually berated you for your spending habits, chances are your “I’m no good with money” mantra can be laid right at his feet. It’s time to turn that thinking around.
The next time you catch yourself saying “I’m no good with money,” take a minute to recall 5 instances where you were good with money. Maybe you paid off your credit cards or saved for a house or built an emergency fund. Rephrase your self-talk to, “I used to be bad with money [if that’s true], but now I make smart choices to achieve my goals.”
Just as negative self-talk becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, so does positive self-talk. Re-frame your thinking, and your business finances will certainly improve.
How do you talk to yourself? Are you kind to yourself? Do you say things to yourself you would never say to anyone else? Share in the comments below, Success Trainer Deb
Want to know what keeps a lot of service providers from charging what they’re worth?
It’s that all-too-common belief that “I am not a sales person.” Combine that with a healthy dose of “It’s rude to discuss money,” and you can see why it’s just easier to keep your rates low.
It’s time to think of your services from a different angle. Not only will you see things in a clearer light but selling suddenly won’t feel so much like selling and will feel more like talking.
Here’s how traditional pricing discussions go:
You talk to a potential client, and you explain what you can offer, how your service works, what he or she can expect (how many calls/emails, phases of work, length of contract), etc. And then you say, “My rate is $XXX.00.”
Your client either says yes, no or (the kiss of death) maybe.
Let’s turn that around, and rather than focus on what he or she will get from YOU, look at what she will achieve when she hires you.
For a business coach, this is easy. Talk money. How much more profit will your client make when she hires you? If your coaching fee is $1,000 per month, but you can show her how to increase her sales by $3,000 per month, then your price is inconsequential. She’ll earn it back three times over, not only while you’re actively coaching her, but for the rest of her business life.
Who wouldn’t jump on that with both feet?
What you’re doing here is not talking about the cost of your coaching, but rather the cost of not hiring you. Because if she doesn’t work with you, she’s losing $3,000 per month.
What about other kinds of services though? The same applies, you just must find a way to show your clients the cost of their inaction.
If you’re a life coach, inaction (to your potential client) might mean years of feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. Imagine what it might be worth to your client to lift that depressing burden forever?
The same goes for health and fitness trainers. Can you add 10 years to the life of an unhealthy, overweight man? That’s priceless.
What about dating coaches? For someone who’s been unlucky in love, in and out of one troubled relationship after another, the promise of a man (or woman) who will love and cherish them is worth nearly any price.
You just have to paint the picture.
What will life/business/love look like without your services, and what can it look like with you? Once they see the value in what you have to offer, pricing becomes nearly irrelevant.
What's your experience with pricing, comment below Coach Deb
In every service provides life, there comes a time when you simply have to raise your rates. Maybe you’ve been in business for years without a pay increase. Maybe your skills have recently improved through a new training course or certification. Or maybe you just want to attract a higher caliber of client.
Whatever the reason, it pays to have a plan in place before you make your big announcement. Here’s where to start.
First, look at your current clients. Will you raise their rates as well? If the answer is no, then you must consider if keeping them will be worth your time, or if you’ll feel resentful at the amount of (lower paid) time you are spending with them. Resentment can build up, so be wary of this. It’s better to raise their rates than provide substandard services due to hidden anger.
If the answer is yes, then prepare yourself for potential fallout. Simply put, there are some clients (you likely know who they are) who will balk at a price hike. They’ll threaten to leave, and they may leave. Are you prepared for the hit your wallet will take should that happen?
Next, consider when your rate increase will go into effect. This might be different for each client, depending on when/how they’re paying you. A client who is on an annual service plan might not see an increase for 8 months or more, while a monthly client might be shocked to find his or her rate is going up in a week.
If you can, give you clients at least 30 days notice of the increase, so they can not only budget a higher expense, but shop around for a new provider if they choose to.
Finally, if you’re a little flexible and want to gain a few new clients, you might think about creating a last-minute offer. Announce that your rates are going up on [whatever date], then offer to let X number of new clients lock in your current rate, if they sign a contract right now.
Sure, you’ll still be working at your old rate, but with a few new clients on the roster, your cash flow will improve.
The most important thing to remember about rate increases is this: You should feel good about the prices you charge. If you think your rates are too low, chances are good that they are. Raising them will not only make you feel better, but it might just let your current and prospective clients know the value of your services as well.
What do you think? Increase your rates for all clients or just new clients? Coach Deb
Does the topic of money make your mouth dry and your hands sweat? Do you dread that point in a conversation when someone says, “So what do you charge?”
You are not alone. Most of us have difficulty talking about money—especially when it comes to quoting prices for our own work. But if you are going to be successful in business, you must get over it.
The first rule for declaring your prices with confidence is simply to practice. Talk to yourself in the shower. Tell your dog what your rates are. Stand in front of your mirror and say, “I charge $XXX.00 per hour.”
The more you say your rates out loud (not in your head) the more natural it will be for you.
Even if you are on the phone or writing an email, smile when you say your rates. Your tone of voice changes when you smile (as does the “tone” of your typing), and that tone can convey confidence and authority, not to mention professionalism.
Avoid Being Wishy-washy
Listen to yourself as you speak to potential clients. Do you say things like, “Well, normally I charge…” or “Actually, my rates are…” or “Do you think that $XX.00 will work for you?”
These (and others like them) are all wishy-washy ways of talking that do not instill confidence in your client, and worse, they make you sound like you do not believe in yourself.
Rather than squeaking out a timid, “Um, I charge, like $1,000 per month,” straighten your back, smile, and say, “My rate for consulting is $1,000 per month. Where should I send your invoice?” And then…
When we are nervous or feeling intimidated, we tend to talk. We want to fill the silence with something, anything, just to avoid having to sit there uncomfortably and wonder what the other person is thinking.
But guess what? He or she is just as uncomfortable with the silence, and psychologically, the one who speaks first is at a disadvantage. So, when you are talking price, avoid the urge to fill the silence (especially because you are most likely to try to justify your pricing) and let your potential client take time to respond.
Will speaking with confidence always land you a new client? No. But being able to share your pricing in a clear voice will help potential clients know that you are confident in your skills, and consequently, that you are the right service provider for them.
Do you have a technique for building your confidence when talking about money with your clients? Post your comments below, Coach Deb
In any business, you’ll spend a certain amount of time on clients who will never pay you.
Website designers quote jobs that never come to fruition.
Car dealers spend hours chatting up customers who will never buy.
Book agents read countless manuscripts they will never be able to sell.
And coaches spend time giving out free advice to clients who cannot or will not hire them.
Truthfully, it can be frustrating, and it’s definitely a drain on your time and energy. But there are some things you can do to eliminate those who will never become clients without having to spend time with them first.
Post Your Prices
One of the most hotly debated topics among service providers is whether or not you should post your prices on your website. There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence, but the biggest advantage to posting your prices is that it immediately eliminates those who cannot afford you.
Of course, you don’t have to list prices for everything to achieve the same effect. If you offer private consulting packages or self-directed training packages, having a price tag of $1000 on your “entry level” course makes it pretty clear that your private consulting is going to be at the high end.
If you prefer to quote packages individually, a line that states, “Packages start at $XXX” is a simple way to state your prices while still giving you some flexibility.
Before you get on the phone with anyone, require that they do a little groundwork first. A client intake form should tell you everything you need to know about a potential client long before you pick up the phone. But what it tells you the most is how much work they’re willing to do. Freebie seekers aren’t likely to do the work required to answer even a simple questionnaire, so those who do fill out your form are better prospects.
Not only that, but you can include in your form a question about pricing, such as “What’s your budget for (whatever service you offer)?” Use a pre-defined list of answers that start with “$1,000 and up” rather than letting your potential client fill in her own amount, and those with smaller budgets won’t bother to complete it.
Change Your Language
Words have power, and if the words you use on your website and other marketing material are speaking to newbies or those just getting started in business, you’ll never attract the audience you’re seeking. Instead of using words like “step by step plan,” say, “advanced techniques.” Rather than talking about “easy systems,” mention high-end, complex software by name. Simple changes can help you to automatically attract the right audience.
You’ll still spend some time and energy on those who ultimately won’t hire you, but by making these simple edits to your website, marketing materials, and other business systems, you’ll begin to see more high-end clients and fewer of those you no longer wish to work with.
Post prices or don't post prices on your consulting service, what do you think? Coach Deb
You’ve filled your funnel and you’re starting to see a steady stream of clients on your calendar. Congrats! That’s a great start to building a rock-solid business you love.
But the work doesn’t end with that first sale. In fact, it’s just beginning.
Your next job is to continue to make offers (and sales) to your loyal customers. Remember, it’s much easier to sell to a current customer than to earn a new one, so don’t ignore those who have already expressed trust in you.
For each of your products or services, there must be a “next logical step” for those who buy. If the point of entry into your customer’s list was an eBook, then perhaps the next step is a video guide. If she’s already purchased your video guide, a multi-week workshop might be next on the agenda. And if that multi-week workshop was a hit, private consultation is going to be her next need.
By thoughtfully including “next step” recommendations in your follow-up emails and even in your products themselves, you can easily move your clients further into your funnel with timely upsells.
Automate Your Follow-Ups
Of course, it can be tricky to manage all your products and services, so savvy entrepreneurs are careful to create an autoresponder series to follow every product purchase. You’ll want to include emails that encourage your buyer to consume the products she’s already purchased, plus tips to help her progress even further.
As she buys your next offer, make sure you make use of the automation tools available in your email software to remove her from the “sales” list and add her to the “buyers” list for that next product. When you manage this well, your clients will progress easily from one offer to the next.
Segment Your Lists
One thing to be cautious of is trying to force buyers to make too big of a leap. The woman who bought your $47 eBook is not likely to sign on for a $1997 program—at least not yet.
By segmenting your mailing lists you can avoid making overly aggressive offers, and instead send your buyers exactly what they need, when they need it.
Upselling your buyers is the key to higher income with less work. Don’t be afraid to make offers, and remember, a happy buyer is primed to make another purchase. She’s counting on you to show her what’s next, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re bothering or annoying her by making offers. Do it thoughtfully, and she’ll actually thank you for it.
Looking forward to your feedback, Coach Deb
Here’s an all-too-common scenario: A seemingly successful service provider is hard at work growing her business. She’s working lots of hours, and her hourly rate is respectable. But her cash flow is dismal.
Because she’s working so hard that finding the time to actually take control of her money is impossible.
Invoices don’t get sent on time. Past due balances are ignored. Taxes aren’t done. And maybe worst of all, she’s got dozens of recurring payments that go out automatically each and every month, and she has no idea what they are or if she’s even using the programs she’s paying for.
Sound familiar? Sadly, that’s exactly what a lot of “successful” businesses look like. When you work at home, and you’re accountable to no one but yourself, it’s far too easy to let these little things slide until, like an avalanche, they have a devastating effect on your business.
The good news is, cleaning it up is easy, when you take the time to put some trusted systems in place.
Start with your billing. Sign up for (and use) a system such as Freshbooks or Harvest, which will automate your timekeeping and produce an invoice with a single click of a button. Then put your billing day on your calendar as an unbreakable appointment.
Log into your timekeeping app, generate your invoices, and click send. You’ll be done in a jiffy. Not only that, but most billing systems automatically send follow-up messages for unpaid invoices, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down those slow pays.
For your expenses, use a single system. That might be PayPal or a dedicated credit card or even your business checking account. Whatever it is, be sure it has a reporting feature that will allow you to send monthly statements to your accountant. At the end of every month, bundle that up with your sales report and your receipts, and send it off. When tax time rolls around, you’ll be sitting back with your feet up while everyone else scrambles to find documents and update their accounting system.
If you do your own taxes (kudos to you!) then look for tools that will talk to each other easily. For example, you can download a Quickbooks file right from PayPal for super-fast reconciliation at the end of every month. That alone will save you hours of “doing the books.”
Just putting these two simple systems in place can easily save you 10+ hours per month, but the even larger benefit is that the money work will get done. And what that will do for your cash flow is priceless.
How about you? Do you have a favorite software or program that keeps your books organized, Coach Deb
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